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Wiser Wanderlust Downtown
St. Pete Dining

By Nanette Wiser,
813 Dining/Travel Editor

Don’t want hotdogs and beer? Downtown St. Petersburg dining will tantalize your tastebuds.

The visiting teams stay either at The Vinoy or Tradewinds, so dining at Marchand’s gives you that baseball state of mind. Although pricey, you can share appetizers and a salad with a glass of wine and feel like the hoi polloi. ). 400 Beach Seafood and Taphouse and Parkshore Grill’s new American cuisine, seafood and elegant, creative décor have a sister restaurant at Albert Whitted Airport (The Hanger, serving up jazz Thurs.-Sat.); all three are must-dines.

Other waterfront dining options along or near upscale Beach Drive serve up alfresco and elegant havens. You can choose global cuisines--Moon Under Water (delicious curry), Bella Brava (Italian), Cassis (French) and Ceviche (Spanish and tapas. At night, Ceviche heats up with dancing downstairs and some of the prettiest people in town. On Central Ave., St. Pete Brasserie dishes up French food and outstanding wine with flair and nearby, Red Mesa’s tantalizing spicy TexMex is also a crowd-pleaser.

Seafood lovers enjoy Central Avenue Oyster Bar and Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro, and for dessert, The Cupcake Spot’s red velvet concoctions and heavenly icing will have you on a sugar high. New to downtown, Emilio’s Bistro, Bakery and Bar is perfect for lunch, dinner or espresso and pastry. My favorites, Paciugo Gelato and Hooker Tea Company, also perk up the dessert-loving tastebuds.

For cheap, delicious eats, count on Central Avenue’s Fortunato’s for pizza and calzones or The Lucky Dill.

Near the Trop, Beak’s Old Florida’s eclectic décor is an oasis for grown ups, serving steaks, chargrilled pizzas, quesadillas, burgers, wings and more, plus on Friday night, live music. Savannah’s outstanding Southern cuisine and excellent wine list. One thing’s for sure, you won’t go hungry rooting for the Rays at their home games!


Downtown St. Pete Bars & Nightclubs

By Nanette Wiser,
813 Dining/Travel Editor

Get your game face on and your game plan locked in. You need to know where to go to drink and dance the night away before and after the game in downtown St. Petersburg.

Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill, adjacent to the Trop, is party central, from the upstairs patio to the outdoor bars and multiple indoor seating areas. Serving American casual cuisine (think burgers, chicken wings), barrels of beer and offering a full bar and lots of big-screen TVs, arrive early, stay late. The other classic downtown sports bar is Midtown Sundries, where the circular bar surrounds multiple tvs, the pool tables are hot, the food is delicious and the crowd down-to-earth.

Funky downtown denizens migrate to The Emerald or Bishop Tavern. Both local dive bars are packed on weekends thanks to live music and kooky deejays, and a slick young crowd. Cheap coke and jack or rum, beer specials and an awesome jukebox make these hip lounges a big draw. Want more dive bars? The Rare Olive and Mastry’s Bar & Grille serve up the best drink deals this side of the bay. At Fubar, you can only get beer and wine, but it’s a lively late night crowd. An awesome beer and wine menu at the trendy Independent and Rex Pub get A+ for sophisticated casual night moves.

Irish bars abound, from Paddy Burke’s near the St. Pete Time, a traditional Irish pub with Guinness and Harp’s on tap, as well as Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub. Claddigh rings reign. For coffee, amble over to Studio @620, Globe Coffee lounge or Café Boheme, where something artsy is usually going on, from poetry readings to theater and art exhibits.

For music, dancing or hipster lounges, check out State Theater, Jannus Landing, Push Ultra Lounge, Vintage and Detroit Liquors and on 1st Friday, all of downtown rocks out with music and special events. The Grand Central downtown neighborhood also features a once a month music, art and food fest as well as Folk Festival and a new Beer Festival during the year.

Gaybor enthusiasts, check out The Detour, a traditional local watering hole, Georgie’s Alibi for great food and entertainment, or the San Francisco moderne hybrid, the Queen’s Head for the best fish and chips and boutique brews around. Everyone’s made welcome, and the lively crowd makes it fun.